Writing Clutter

Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Vimeo, and blogs.

Oh my.

The options for social media for writers (and others) is mind boggling. Dizzying. Overwhelming. businessman-clear-junk-his-head-31524952

Here is how it begins.

You write some articles for a few online and print sources. The editors of these sources expect you to promote these pieces on your own social media sites. That drives traffic to their website.

But who wants to read entire articles on Facebook? Or Twitter? But still, it’s expected that you share.

Speaking of Twitter, did you know that Twitter has an option called TweetDeck for organizing and managing twitter lists and connections? I like lists! I like organizing.

But for now, I am still trying to figure out what the hell I am doing on Twitter. I’m not ready for tools. It’d be like gathering the hammer and nails before I know what I am building.

How does anyone follow hundreds, if not thousands of people? How can anyone possibly read all those tweets? I know, I know, they don’t. But what do they do? The answers are available to me, but I am busy writing. Or trying to.

But I must divide my time. Update and manage Twitter every four days, or something like that. I really should get on that.

And there’s that LinkedIn account that I barely remember creating. It just sort of happened. Like an unwanted, neglected child, it is the accident whose care I am  half-assing. Oh the guilt.

And is it too soon to create a website? Perhaps that is best done after a book is published. And is the website necessary at all if you have a blog? Probably. Because the blog won’t have links to articles. Or will it? Should the blog be moved to the website?

So many questions. So many good answers. I need to get on that. All of it.

I read an article that had this message:  It is not your job to babysit your writing once you publish it.

Finally, something to let go of!

And in theory, I agree. Once you hit publish, forget about it! Move on to your next writing project. Some people will like it and some won’t, every single time, and it’s not really your business to care.

Write. Publish. Promote. Ignore the rest.

But but but…if I hadn’t checked on an essay I shared on Facebook, I would’ve missed the thoughtful comment left by an old friend that I worked with twenty-five years ago, thus missing the opportunity to respond. That would’ve been a tiny bit sad.

Some of the “babysitting” of our work is just being a human.

I love writing.

And since I typically believe in my writing, I don’t really mind promoting it.

But we live in a time that encourages much more social media promotion than face to face promotion. It is more efficient. It’s economical.

Don’t get me wrong, I like sitting behind my laptop. Writing is a solo activity. I can barely tolerate  the radio being on when I am creating. Too many voices.

But I sort of prefer promoting (if we must call it that)  in person; reading my writing aloud, or just speaking it aloud to a live audience who is there to hear some stories. You know, like the way writers used to do it.

Fortunately though, some of it can still happen that way, if we want it to. We may have to create our own opportunities to do so, but what’s a writer without an entrepreneurial spirit?

I was at a writer’s event recently, and when the topic of social media came up, the man next to me, who was also middle-aged, looked pained.

“Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account?” he asked, hoping I’d say no.

“Yes, I do. But…
I wanted to convince him that it did not have to be painful, not really. That you can pick and choose your sites, and how often you use them, and..

“I hate all that”,  he replied. “Maybe I should just quit now.”

And I am pretty sure I saw him give up his writing dreams, right before my eyes.

I don’t think J.K. Rowling was promoting writing all over social media before she published the Harry Potter series. I have the impression that she just quietly wrote her literary sensation and then later, perhaps, her staff put up a twitter account while she got to work on her next best seller.  Why can’t we all be like J.K. Rowling?
Sometimes I think social media is just one way the universe is conspiring to take me away from writing, because writing is an unnecessary, frivolous endeavor that begs to be interrupted.

But other times, I think writing is the air that I breathe and a means of connecting us all, and that I will never stop, as long as I am able.

I am going to another writing conference next month. This one will be led by a senior literary agent from Writer’s Digest, and one other expert, a best-selling author.

Day two of the weekend-long event will be dedicated to “positioning your book for success in today’s difficult publishing climate”.

Part of that will include helping us to navigate this maze that is social media, and to organize and prioritize our writer’s brand. And they  will do it in person. In the flesh. Preferably while holding our hands.

After the workshop, I will put my media ducks in a row, and lift my head to the surface, the place of starting to have it all figured out. From there I will continue writing. Or breathing. It’s all the same to me.

Time for chores

This was published in Huffington Post today: 

20150610_081629I keep coming across articles about how Millennials are making serious attempts at living simplified lifestyles. From pared-down wardrobes and weddings to pared-down homes, they are aiming for lifestyles that reflect meaning, experiences, time and relationships over stuff. If this is true, and there really is a quiet revolution of minimalism happening among this generation, then I say this is good news. Good for them!

After all, life can get complicated and cluttered enough, without inviting the added stress and chaos of too-muchness.

Perhaps as children, many Millennials witnessed stressed out parents working too hard to pay for bigger and better things, and now they want to live differently. Or maybe many of them were overscheduled or overburdened with too many resume-building activities while growing up, and now they want to take back their time.

Maybe their desire to simplify was born of these experiences or maybe not. It’s possible that there is a minimalist trend in much of society now, and Millennials just happen to be the ones being watched. I don’t know. I didn’t do the research, but I am interested in any trends in minimalism, no matter who the subjects are.

In addition to their newfound reputation of becoming minimalists, Millennials have been dubbed self-centered and possessing a sense of entitlement. Personally, I think such a generalization is unfair, but if there is any truth to it at all, aren’t their parents partly to blame?

Perhaps some of these kids have been raised with the belief that the universe revolves around them and their over-packed schedules, while the mundane chores of life magically get done (probably while their parents should be sleeping or relaxing), or they don’t get done at all because who has any time left? It’s just a theory.

There are chores in life. Lots and lots of chores. Food needs to be purchased and prepared, and cars need to be maintained and toilets need to be scrubbed and bills need to be payed and finances need to be organized and pets need to go to the vet and laundry needs be done and dishwashers need to be emptied. Rugs get vacuumed and trash gets put out. Appointments get scheduled and drains need to be unclogged and papers get filed and mail gets opened and birthday gifts get ordered and thank you notes get written.

If kids don’t partake in any of this while growing up, they won’t factor in that they actually have to leave time in their lives to do the stuff of life. Chores. Maintenance. Cleaning it up. Getting it done. Letting them believe that all of this just magically gets done is not serving them well, in my opinion.

In fact, it’s a lie.

All I’m saying is, perhaps along the way some of us forgot to factor in all the time it takes to get things done that are required to live a decently organized and grown up life. Or we forgot to let the kids bear witness to that, let alone have them take part in it.

There is work to do, often tedious, annoying work, and it must get done within the twenty four hours that we have in a day.

So as far as I can tell, it’s not only okay, but pertinent to sometimes say:

I don’t have time for that.

You don’t have time for that.

Because there are the chores.

Because if dinner doesn’t get cooked, we are going to eat crap and I prefer not to live that way.

Because if I don’t put the laundry away today, it will come out of my writing (or working, or playing or fill-in-the-blank) time tomorrow.

Because if this doesn’t get done now, it will come out of my sleep and if I don’t get eight hours sleep, I will feel lousy.
Maybe the Millennials have figured it out now. Perhaps they have become painfully aware of the limits of their resources; time, money, and energy. No wonder we are watching their tendency toward minimalism with interest. They seem to be absorbing a valuable truth at this time: their life really is about them. The choices are theirs to make. That’s not selfishness; it’s awareness. And time? That’s all theirs too. It’s on their side, after the chores are done.

Snowed In

My favorite things to do while snowed in:   write, cook, and organize.

 

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Something so satisfying about seeing and touching all the chapters.

 

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Trail mix, nuts, chia seeds, quinoa and lentils. I like my food in plain sight.

 

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My favorite yogurt maker..easy and delicious!

 

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Quick & healthy sauce to serve over gluten free pasta: diced tomatoes, spices, mushrooms and spinach. Simmer and serve!